People who work for mobile phone companies should be treated the same as rapists, murderers and bankers because – like them – they are the absolute scum of the earth.
They charge the skies for phone usage, tie you into long term contracts on the promise of first class service should anything go wrong, and then when something does go wrong they treat you like a leper who’s riddled with sexually transmitted diseases the likes of which not even Russell Brand has experienced.
Take Orange for example. I joined Orange in 1997 after leaving O2 (or what was then just BT) because of the contempt they showed towards their customers. Two years ago I bought an HTC Hero, one of the first HTC phones on the market. I did so on the advice of the Orange staff in my local shop. I was told this phone was exceptional, a dream of a handset. A groundbreaking phone. As it turned out, these were lies. This phone was about as much use as a fucking kaleidoscope for David Blunkett.
Within a year the phone battery lasted less than three hours before dying. The screen would freeze. People would call me and it would not ring. It would take half a day for a text to come through, so friends thought I was ignoring them and they’d ask me if I hated them. The HTC had a life of its own and it was controlling and ruining my social life by blanking everyone I knew. It was like some sort of miniature Terminator that wanted me to itself so would scupper any chance of contact with the outside world. Just me and the Hero, alone, forever.
So I call up the Orange hotline. This cannot go on, I think to myself. I will not be controlled by a machine. I go through the laborious automated process of pushing buttons until I get put through to the relevant department that deals with ‘phone problems’. And it’s based, obviously, in India. A man picks up, he has a strong Indian accent, and he asks me a question. Because of the strength of said accent I do not hear the question, so I ask him to politely repeat himself. Again I can’t work out what he’s saying. And now I start to feel a little racist. I’m not a racist, but now I have been made to feel like one because Orange have outsourced their call centre to India and I have got the man with the strongest Indian accent in the world. They have put me in this position. First they sell me a shit phone and now this. Can I ask him to repeat himself again? A THIRD TIME? Of course not. Why don’t I ask to sleep with his wife while I’m at it, really rile him. So I am forced to hang up, and am left feeling dirty, racist and still no closer to fixing my phone. I do not think it is a coincidence that when you have a problem with your phone and you call up for help, you are put through to someone who doesn’t speak English by the way. It’s a tactic. I’m surprised they don’t just redirect the calls to a fucking nursery and have some toddler gurgle down the phone at you for twenty minutes.
But nevertheless I decide to try again the next day, in the hope that I speak to someone with a more decipherable accent, and low and behold I get a Brit. It is clear from her voice however, that she would rather be doing anything other than working at an Orange call centre, and while more often than not I would applaud such a mindset, today I needed her help and it was important she knew this. So I explained my phone issues to her. I tell her my phone battery is buggered, that Princess Diana has more life in her than my HTC. I tell her of the missed social events it has caused, of the delayed texts, of it choosing to snub my friends without even informing me of its intentions. And she says she needs to ask me some questions to help ‘diagnose’ the problem. I tell her that I have just explained the problems, but she is adamant – questions must be asked and problems must be DIAGNOSED. I sigh and begin to answer her queries, but shortly after the interrogation begins it is obvious that these questions have already been answered.
CALL CENTRE WOMAN: Is the phone battery working properly?
ME: No, I’ve told you it’s not. It dies after a few hours.
CALL CENTRE WOMAN: Any problems making or receiving calls?
ME: I HAVE TOLD YOU THAT THERE ARE PROBLEMS MAKING AND RECEIVING CALLS.
CALL CENTRE WOMAN: And how is the screen working? Has it frozen at all?
ME: I AM GOING TO FUCKING KILL MYSELF.
So eventually the woman diagnoses my phone problem. It’s the battery. The battery is not working properly. You need a new battery. A new battery will solve all your problems. All of the phone’s problems have been caused by the phone battery. I tell her I am insured and ask how long it will take for the battery to be sent out to my house. And I am then told that my insurance doesn’t cover the battery, as the battery is not part of the phone. Excuse me? THE BATTERY. IS NOT PART OF THE PHONE?
ME: What makes the phone work then?
CALL CENTRE WOMAN: The battery.
ME: So without the battery I have no phone.
CALL CENTRE WOMAN: That’s correct.
ME: Then how can the battery not be part of the phone?
CALL CENTRE WOMAN: I’m afraid that’s our policy.
ME: So what you’re telling me is that my phone is insured against anything going wrong, but the key element of the phone – the bit that allows me to turn it on and off and that is responsible for all the issues I am currently encountering – IS NOT PART OF THE PHONE?!?
CALL CENTRE WOMAN: That’s right sir.
To make matters worse, she then tells me that the phone battery is no longer in production. That even if I wanted to buy my own battery for my HTC, I couldn’t. I tell her this is ridiculous, and that I want to cancel my contract immediately. I’ve been told that if you play hardball with these bastards they’ll sort you out, cut you a deal, do you a solid. Maybe I’ll get a free iphone? A discount on my bill? At the very least a cocking phone battery from the Orange archives? And she responds to my demand to cancel with one word. FINE.
This throws me somewhat and I ask her to repeat herself. She repeats the word. FINE. She then tells me that to cancel will cost me more than £300 due to the remaining months on my contract. I can picture her smirk. I remind her that I cannot use my phone, that’s it’s broken, that I’d have more joy making a phone out of a plastic beaker and some string, but she tells me that’s not her problem. NOT HER PROBLEM? AAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!! I sheepishly hang up and swear loudly at no-one in particular. I’m sure the Terminator phone just laughed.
I persevere with the HTC Hero for another two months before I decide to cancel for good. Fourteen years of business given to those idiots and nothing in return. So I bite the bullet. I go back to O2. Surely after all the time that has passed since my last dalliance with them they’ve become slightly less bastardish? And as my Hero, it’s in a drawer somewhere, watching, breathing, biding its time. The machines are taking over.